Word for the Week

Genesis 2:7 Living Bible (TLB)

“The time came when the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground[a] and breathed into it the breath of life. And man became a living person.”

Whether you take the Judeo-Christian creation story at face value or not, there is a very important principle embedded in these few words: that humankind received life from God, a divine source. When people read this passage, they often miss the intimacy of God breathing his life force into people, his highest creation. He touches Adam. I have come to believe that each time a child is born, that act of life passing from God to human is repeated (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13-18). What, then, does this mean for how we treat one another? First, we should recognize that every life is a reflection of God. When we look into the faces of any person anywhere, we are looking at a divinely animated person. The portion of God in that person makes him or her immeasurable valuable. The British scholar C. S. Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity, “there are no ordinary people . . . “it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” Lewis’ point was that we should take great care in how we treat one another because to offend any person is to God. Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 25 when we says, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it also unto me.”

Another latent idea in this small passage is the notion that every life matters. As I watch the machinations of Washington, D.C. from generation to generation, it appears that the people we elect forget that their decisions impact lives. When a decision is made to go to war, someone’s life is at stake. When we decide about healthcare, the least among us – often the poor – are impacted. When decisions are made about the environment – air, water, forests, oceans, etc. – lives are either improved or worsened. On the contrary, when we cherish life – regardless or color or ethnicity – we pave the way for an improved world. As a university community, we train young people to impact our world. It is my prayer that we teach and demonstrate that all human life is precious before God. In America, we are infinitely fortunate to pursue our dreams passionately with little threat of external violence. If we want to be the greatest nation, we must remember that when God blesses us, he prepares us bless others. When we have the privilege of a college education, when are obligated to honor life in our chosen fields. All work is ministry to the human soul. Remember John Donne’s Meditation XVII in which he says, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

God values us. Psalm 8:3-5 says “When I consider the heavens and the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him and the son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angles and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” Every classroom should remind our students that a career is merely a space to bless the life God has invested in each person whose life we touch. It is my prayer that we embrace that every human is a reflection of the divine and what we say and do to one another touches the divine. I wish you a great work in the Lord.


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